Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Is Spy Baiting? Why You Should Throw it in Cold Water

What is Spy Baiting?  No, it’s not a secret CIA mission to gather world secrets.  It is one of the newest bass fishing techniques to come out of Japan.  Even though a major tournament has not been won on them, these sinking prop baits are all the buzz.

In the style of the “do-nothing” lures like Jackals I-Shad, the spy baiting technique follows suit.  Spy baiting or silent capture as it is also known, has been thrust into the bass fishing spotlight in recent months with the introduction of the Realis Spinbait 80 to America in late 2013.  Realis is the bass division of DUO International a Japanese lure manufacturer.

The history behind spy baiting is shrouded in mystery, some say it started on
Lake Biwa in

Duo Realis Spinbait 80
 2007-2008 well others believe it evolved from smaller lakes around Tokyo.  No matter where it started lures with propellers on them began surfacing on Japanese shelves.  Anglers also began adding propellers to lures they already owned. 

In America the spy baiting revolution is taking over.  Tackle Warehouse ( has had a hard time keeping them in stock.   The Spinbait 80 is not the only silent capture lure on the market.  Other Japanese companies like Megabass, Lucky Craft and Evergreen International have their own versions of these lures.  They can range in price between $13-24 depending on the brand.

The spy baiting technique was designed for the highly pressured clear waters of Japan.  It can be a useful tool for those of us in the mid-west where we have clear water lakes.  Reports from Table Rock, St. Claire and other clear lakes tell of bass being caught on the spy bait lures, proving again that the finesse techniques born in Japan work in America.

Lucky Craft Screw Pointer
FLW pro and guide Art Ferguson has been using the Realis Spinbait 80 since last February.  He guides on the crystal clear waters of Lake St. Claire and understands what it takes to catch a bass in those clear water conditions.  He has proven that even the smallmouth will eat the same baits as the giant largemouth bass of Japan and America.

When choosing the right line anglers will want to shy away from braid or mono.  These lines float and will cause your lure to rise out of the strike zone as you work the bait back to the boat. Anglers will want to use fluorocarbon line but not large pound test.  4 to 6lb test is recommended.  These lines have a small diameter which won’t weight down your bait.  Going against the norm, Ferguson uses 8lb Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon.  He feels the 8lb line works just fine in the waters he fishes, and has no effect on the action of the lure.         

Presentation and stealth is the key with silent capture lures.  As the bait moves through the water the propellers turn causing a small amount of turbulence causing the lure to wobble.  It also shimmies as the bait falls.  You want to make a long cast past your intended target and allow the bait to sink to the depth the bass are at.  At 3/8 ounces the Spinbait 80 falls at almost a foot a second.  Once your bait hits your intended depth you reel just fast enough to get the propellers moving.  You don’t want to burn the bait back to the boat or fish it so slow that it sinks.  Play with the lure until you figure out the retrieve speed that works best. 

Tyler Brinks who has been using the Spinbait 80 for months uses a 7ft medium light spinning rod. 
Jackall Silent Capture Lure
Others use ultralight rods in the 6ft to 71/2ft range.  You want a rod where when you set the hook you don’t rip the lure out of the fish’s mouth.  A light or ultralight rod won’t do that.  A 7ft or longer rod allows you to make a longer cast which is helpful with this technique, because you want to cast beyond your target count down your lure and bring it to your target area. 

Ferguson uses a Kistler medium light action rod with a fast tip.  He likes the lighter action rod because the hooks on the Spinbait 80 are light wire trebles.  The rods fast tip allows him to set the hook without straightening the thin wire hooks out.  He pairs his rod with a Shimano 2500, 5:1 spinning reel which holds plenty of line for long cast.    

Beyond making a long cast you also want to avoid imparting any action into the lure.  You simply point your rod tip at the lure and reel it in at a slow, steady pace.  Unlike other lures you are not going to call bass from a long ways off with vibration or flash but if you put the lure near them they are going to see it in clear water.  With an action like nothing they have seen this lure might just put a few bass in the boat.  Ferguson believes the “blades are the action.”

Ferguson says “The lure has its own bite”, or feel, when a bass sucks it in.  It has a “heaviness feel to it.”  When setting the hook Ferguson found he has to pull into the lure.  By that he means, he pushes his pole toward the fish before setting the hook.  This puts the lure deeper into the fish’s mouth before he sets the hook.  Despite the thin wire hooks he has been able to land 70% or more of the bass he has hook on them.

The technique works best around sand, rock and ledges in clear water according to Ferguson.  He recommends keeping it away from grass because you can’t rip the bait free from it like you would other lures.  I used the Spinbait 80 during the fall and had luck fishing it over the top of grass.  I found it works as long as you keep it out of it.  Because the lure sinks you can fish it at any depth from shallow to deep.  Ferguson doesn’t believe the lure really has a time of year where it will shine like other lures.

The lure is worked slowly the spy baiting technique is perfect for cold water situations.  “I don’t think it will ever be too cold (for the lure)” Ferguson says.   The bait sinks allowing you to reach the depth the bass are hiding out in this time of year assuming you have open water.  “Barely pulling it six inches (causes) the props to move” making it perfect for the cold water.

Ferguson warns that they are not search baits.  Since you are fishing the bait so slow and it is not giving off any flash it does not work in that capacity.  Instead you want to find the bass with another lure or sonar before you begin throwing them.  When you locate the bass the spy baiting technique “will trigger bites that other baits won’t trigger.”

“It’s a cool technique” says Ferguson.  It is a “very finesse lure, and takes patience along with a special touch.”  Even though the lure will take time to learn and understand that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider adding a few to your tackle box.

Despite cold weather, if you have open water and can get to the bass, grab a spy baiting lure or two and get out there.  You will need to practice but if you put in the time and effort you might be surprised with your reward.  If you can’t get out on the water right now think about trying this technique when the water opens up.  Art Ferguson said it best, “I don’t think it will ever be too cold (for the lure).”   


  1. Great recap on an awesome new technique

  2. Very interesting, I can think of a lot very pressured places I would like to give this a try at.